Are You Doing the Right Things but for All the Wrong Reasons?

It’s 8:15 a.m. I’m on the corner of Granville St. and Nelson St. on Sunday morning. There is no traffic. The orange stop hand is illuminated. “Don’t walk!” I’m waiting to cross the street. On the other side of the street, a woman waits as well. She notices me, I notice her. She clearly notices my clerical collar. Together, we once again take note of the absence of any cars. And there we stand, playing crosswalk chicken. By the look on her face, she was surely thinking, “Will the priest jay walk?” And I can tell, if I do it she’s totally going to do it too. I don’t. But only because I want to set a good example. If I was by my lonesome, I absolutely would have. She would have too.

How often do we simply do what’s right but for the wrong reasons?

A few years ago, if you wanted to see my true colours, all you would have had to do was listen to me talk to a customer service representative on the phone. It wouldn’t matter what company. It wouldn’t matter if I loved their product. If I felt wronged, all common courtesy and respect for human dignity went out the window. I was horrid.

I remember the first time Julia saw me berate a customer service rep on the phone during the first year of our marriage. Our cell phone provider had duped me in a dubious duping way. I lost my temper. I made demands. I persisted in my belligerence until I got my way. I got it. But I also got a mouthful from Julia afterward too. She asked me, “How on earth can you talk to someone like that?” but her eyes said, “Who the hell did I marry?!”

It was a needed wake-up call.

Since that fateful day, I have never talked to a customer service representative without an ample amount of feigned respect and courtesy.

Everything we do—the rules we keep, abstaining from wrong, seeking what is right, doing good—it is only pleasing to God when it’s done for God, because we love God for who he is and what he has done in Christ Jesus.

Seven years later, we went through, what I’ve titled, “the great flood of 2014.” Our home was wrecked by an unfortunate mishap. A trade worker busted a pipe. For the past three months (and counting), I’ve been dealing with insurance companies. God help me. And Julia has observed countless hours of my time wasted away on the phone dealing with this situation. If there has ever been something to make me emotionally distressed, this would do it. If there has ever been a reason to lose my temper with someone on the phone, this would be it. Given the ordeal, it could even be excusable and perhaps even understandable if I did. But I haven’t. I’ve been kind. I’ve been thoughtful. I’ve been trying to get to know the people we’re working with. I ask them how they’re doing.

It has all the makings of an extreme makeover.

And Julia has noticed the difference.

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Alastair Sterne
Alastair was born and raised in Victoria, BC. He spent seven years in design and advertising, his work has been featured in magazines such as HOW, CMYK, Applied Arts, and Graphix. After a dramatic calling to missional living, he began and completed his Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, while working as a minister at Summit Church. After three years of prayer and preparing their hearts, Alastair and his wife, Julia, were formally assessed for church planting by The Grace Network and Church Planting BC in Vancouver, BC. They were given a full recommendation to begin church planting and partnered with Church Planting BC as their regional network. They now live in Vancouver and are at work fulfilling God's call for them there. They blog together at St. Peters Fireside.